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Tour and Review: Shudder, Samantha Durante

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This review is part of the Shudder blog tour. Make sure to stop by the main tour page and see all the other blogs participating!


ShudderShudder (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Samantha Durante (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meagre remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

Details

Series: Stitch trilogy #2
Genre: YA dystopian sci-fi
Published: Self published June 15, 2013
Pages: 348
My copy: from the author for the tour

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Smashwords

Please note: This is my review for the second book in this series, and so contains spoilers for the first, Stitch. You may wish to read my review for that book instead!


Excerpt

By the time the sun dipped toward the skyline, Alessa and Isaac had wandered through two more vacant neighborhoods, a derelict shopping center, and a downtown area that could only be described as a ghost town.
The pervasive quiet shrouding the once-vibrant village intensified the eerie feeling of being utterly alone. If Alessa hadn’t known what happened, she might have expected families and school kids and zipping cars around every corner. Besides the overgrown shrubbery and the occasional smashed storefront, everything seemed just in its place, waiting for its inhabitants to come home.
It was devastating.
Isaac kicked an empty can which went scuttling along the blacktop ahead, finally coming to rest at the base of a large sign marking the entrance to an expansive lot scattered with cars.
“Mall Parking,” he read aloud.
But what caught Alessa’s attention was the carefully lettered banner crumpled beneath, one corner still nailed to the bottom of the mall sign. She dug the other side out of the snow and held it up, the distinctive red cross painted across the tarp waving in the wind.
“Relief Center,” she added. Alessa gazed at Isaac intently. “Isaac, do you think we found another quarantine zone?”
“Only one way to know for sure – let’s go check it out.”

Review

Alyssa and Isaac have escaped from the Paragon facility on a mission in search of a base for the rebels, but with the threat of the virus still possibly live outside the fences, plus the strange creatures that seem to be stalking them along the way, their mission will not be easy. Meanwhile, inside Paragon a young woman wakes up after an ordeal with no memory of her identity or what happened to her. Newly christened “Phoenix”, she is told the story of the creation of Paragon by the creators themselves, the Developers. They hope she can carry a message to the rebel cause they know she is linked to – they want a truce.

Shudder is an enjoyable follow-up to Stitch, continuing the story of Alyssa and Isaac and their friends trying to resist a repressive society.

It did suffer a bit from the “middle book curse” in that there was a lot of story and character development and not a lot of action – perhaps worse than a normal second book in fact, due to Stitch being mostly set inside the “dramas” so that we don’t get to meet the “real” characters until close to the end. We end up hearing several people’s stories about how they came to be part of Paragon, not to mention the different versions of the actual creation of Paragon told by the Developers. At times I started to lose the thread of who knew what when, but I think by the end everyone was more or less on the same page, so to speak. I’m sure those Developers are up to something dodgy, though!

There are some action scenes through the book though, and they are very tense – sometimes scary! I think this has to be one of the most well-written Indie series I’ve read in a long time. While there is a lot of character development in this story (perhaps a bit too much, even), I did enjoy the further development of Alyssa and Isaac’s relationship. Alyssa’s strange ability to hear thoughts or memories is quite strange and rather baffling – I’ll look forward to hearing what it develops into and how it might be useful.

Overall, Shudder builds towards what I am hoping will be a blockbuster ending to the trilogy. Bring it on!

Warnings: Sexual situations

Review: The Seers, MD Kaczkowski

The Seers, MD KaczkowskiTitle: The Seers: New World Order (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa M.D. Kaczkowski (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Seers introduces a world where good battles evil for the world’s soul. The fate of humanity rests in the hands of the Seers, a handful of humans with the rare ability to see the unseen, who call their Angels into action to do battle with Demons.

NYPD Detective John Scarcepho is investigating the murder of dozens of homeless who are dead with their eyes surgically removed. As he tracks down what he believes is a crazed serial killer, he discovers that he has special powers that he had suppressed as a child. He is drafted into saving humanity by empowering his unrivalled abilities, but self-doubt, temptation, and anger challenge his ability to harness his gift for good.

This captivating, fast-paced story blends two classic genres: part apocalypse and part detective story. Through the characters’ lives, readers are introduced to the prophets of humanity, known as the Seers. Between chapters, Dr. John Alderson, a well-traveled Seer-physician, shares his inside knowledge and encourages readers to delve deeper by guiding them to sections in The Seers’ Handbook, which makes up the final third of the book. Welcome to the universe of The Seers. Your journey has only just begun.

Details

Series: Stand alone (for now)
Genre: Paranormal fantasy
Published: Scilestial Fiction Press, March 2013
Pages: 304 (story 227)
My copy: For review via Media Connect

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

The Seers

Review

The world as we know it is breaking down – country after country is rejecting democracy and installing a single leader – King, Emperor or Dictator. Meanwhile, in the USA, ex-cop-turned-PI John Scarcepho is investigating a series of murders in which the victims’ eyes have been removed surgically and the sockets filled with sea water. He is approached by a strange man who introduces him to the world of the Seers, a group of people with the ability to see into the spirit world and observe the battles between angels and demons for the souls of the living. As it turns out, John has a particularly powerful Archangel as his guardian, but can he gain enough control of his new power to save the world from Lucifer’s control?

The Seers is not just a story, although it is a rather enjoyable page-turning thriller. It is also a new experience in multimedia storytelling, backed by a wealth of information available to the reader through QR Codes and links at the end of each chapter, plus the extensive Seer’s Handbook in the back of the volume.

At the end of each chapter, the QR code links the reader to a page on the seers website containing information about the subject matter in that chapter. Sometimes it is just links to sections of the Handbook to further explain concepts. Other chapters contain links to news articles, videos or real-world organisations that were mentioned in the story. It’s an interesting way to get access to information about aspects of the story and adds a lot of extra depth.

Even though I found the extra information interesting when I did look at it, I found it was a little distracting at first having to pick up my phone after every chapter. After a few chapters I just kept reading the story, and only went back to look into the information further after I was finished. The way the info is linked means that you can look at as much or as little of it as you wish, and wow, there is a lot of it to take in.

Although it is stated in the start of the book that it is a work of fiction, it’s quite clear that the author has put in years of research into belief systems around the world and painstakingly collected the resources into this accessible format. It has to be assumed that he believes in the tenets to a certain degree, and at times the story itself did come across as a bit “preachy”, showing the reader that their soul is being harmed by such vices as greed, lust, arrogance and vanity and that only your guardian angel is keeping you from being possessed by a demon. That said, if you read it from the point of view of an urban paranormal fantasy, it’s a very well put together system and quite an enjoyable story. The writing itself may lack some of the finesse of a veteran author, but The Seers is still a very enjoyable debut novel and an interesting concept in the future of storytelling.

Warnings: Graphic violence

Review: Jack Templar: Monster Hunter Academy, Jeff Gunhus

JT2banner

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on the Jack Templar Monster Hunter Academy tour! Following my review, there are links to the rest of the tour, plus a great giveaway. 

Warning: Only proceed if you are absolutely sure you want to find out about Monster Hunters. Reading this book will almost certainly cause a load of monsters to descend on your house. There’s no backing out if you suddenly get scared of zombies or vampires! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Monster Hunter AcademyTitle: Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy 
(Goodreads)
Author:  Jeff Gunhus (@JTmonsterhunter)

Rating: ★★★½☆

After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions. Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying than anything he’s faced so far.

Details

Series: The Templar Chronicles #2
Genre: Middle-grade/Teen Fantasy
Published: Seven Guns Press, April 3, 2013
Pages: 375

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk 
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & NobleIndieBound

Review

Please note: This review is for the second in this series, and so may contain spoilers for the first book. You may prefer to read my review of Jack Templar Monster Hunter instead!


I’ve managed to deal with the Creach that find me from time to time after reading the first Jack Templar book – long enough to bring you this review of the second, anyway.

Jack is the son of Monster Hunters, who has just survived past his fourteenth birthday after being attacked by zombies, werewolves and worse. After surviving his encounter with the Creach Lord Ren Lucre, Jack and his friends go with Eva and travel to France to the Monster Hunter Academy. What they find there is not the warm welcome Jack had hoped for.

I had very high hopes for this second tale from Jack Templar, since I really enjoyed the first. I was let down a bit though- once the group reach the Academy, the story falls into the usual boarding school woes, a mysterious challenge that Jack mysteriously gets signed up for, and so on. With Jack also being the only one who can save the world from the forces of darkness it started to feel a bit Harry Potter-ish, and I think it’s for this reason that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the first book. It’s almost as though Jeff Gunhus has tried to pack too much into this story – castles, dragons, werewolves, discovery of Jack’s power – that’s a lot to cover in a reasonably short book.

Despite these things, Jack Templar is still a funny storyteller. The action is fast-paced and quite unrelenting – I felt like I needed a rest by the end of it since Jack was so busy through the whole story. Not a dull moment to be seen, which is perfect for middle-grade and young teen readers.

Monster Hunter Academy is a well-written and enjoyable story, but it lacked a bit of the originality that made the first Jack Templar book stand out for me. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next instalment – the series promises to be an interesting journey after the recent events at the Academy!

Warnings: Some rather grisly violence.

 

About the Author:

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

 

The Tour and Giveaway

Visit the tour site at Girl Who Reads to see the full tour information. The giveaway is at the bottom of this post!

 

April 4
Classic Children’s Books Excerpt
Larkin’s Book Bloggers Review
Brooke Blogs Excerpt

April 5
The Oaken Bookcase Review
Italian Brat’s Obsessions Featured Book

April 6 Lubs Book Chatter Review

April 7 My Devotional Thoughts Review

April 8 Here’s the Story Review

April 9 Library Girl Reads & Reviews Excerpt

April 11 What Shall We Blog About Today? Top Ten & Review

April 12
Paperback Princess  Review & Top Ten List
Girl Who Reads Excerpt

April 13 Alli’s World Excerpt

April 14 Ohana Day Academy Review & Excerpt

April 17 Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders Review & Top Ten List
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Cypher, Julian Rosado-Machain

GuardianTourbadge

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on The Guardians Inc. blog tour! Here’s my review and an excerpt from The Cypher, as well as the opportunity to win a $75 Amazon gift card! You can find the giveaway form plus links to the other blogs participating at the bottom of the post.

The Cypher e-book is free throughout the tour! Download links are available below.


cypherTitle: The Cypher (Goodreads)
Author:  mexico_flag Julian Rosado-Machain (website)

Rating: ★★★½☆

GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future.

Details

Series: Guardians Inc. #1
Genre: Middle grade/Young adult paranormal/science fiction
Published: Createspace, February 2011
Pages: 238

*The Cypher is available in e-book formats for free throughout the tour!*

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk •  Barnes & Noble

Review

Thomas Byrne is almost sixteen when his parents go missing while on a cruise. His grandfather takes him in, and must try to find work to support them both. When Thomas and his grandfather answer an advertisement for a librarian position with Guardians Inc, they discover themselves involved in a grand adventure. Guardians Inc is a massive company tasked with ensuring that technology remains dominant in the world over magic. Every few hundred years, the balance is tipped and a Cypher – one who can read any language – must find a special text in order to save the world from ancient elemental magic. Thomas and his grandfather are both Cyphers, and the Magical world and the Technological Guardians must race to discover the Book of Accord before it’s too late.

The Cypher is a very detailed first instalment in this series – there is so much to take in here in not many pages! I got the feeling it would be a little overwhelming for younger MG readers. The story is not only packed with the detailed history of the Guardians, but there’s also quests, riddles and confrontations with strange creatures. There’s even a touch of romance!

The one major problem that I found while reading it was that it’s badly in need of more thorough editing. There were a few words out of place and the story just didn’t flow well – I had to go back a few pages from time to time to work out what had happened. Despite this, the Guardians Inc. is a very interesting concept and I was able to suppress my inner editor and enjoy the story.

The Cypher is almost like a cross between Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code – ancient magics and mysteries to solve. It’s a shame the editing let it down, but the confrontation between technology and magic is so imaginative I’ll be interested to see where the story goes next.

Warnings: Violent but otherwise clean.

Excerpt

This is a little bit about Thomas first mission as a Cypher, and his first encounter with Tony, who will become part of his team later on.

Hussahassalin under Central Park, NY

Hussahassalin under Central Park, NY

Tony pulled the little yellow cocktail sword out of his mouth and hunched his shoulders. “I always imagined that the Cypher would be an old wrinkled man, or a hot, hot girl,” he said with a thick New York accent and extended a hand toward Thomas. He had such a carefree attitude that Thomas immediately liked him.

Thomas took his hand. “Nice to meet you. I’m Thomas.”

“I’m Tony Della Francesca,” he said nodding toward his group. “Vani, Piero, the pretty lady with the sawed-off shotgun under her forearm is Bella.” Bella clicked her mouth and leveled her arm at them letting them glimpse the two holes of a twin shotgun inside her jacket sleeve.

“And these two guys over here,” Tony said as he walked toward the two remaining men who rolled their eyes as he approached, “are brothers. I’ll bet you five bucks that you can guess the name of one of them if I give you one clue.”

“Andiamo Tony, gia abbastanza!” one of the men said.
“He’s a Cypher! It’s a little field test, and you both shook on the bet, for life,” Tony scolded them.

“We were drunk, Tony,” the other grumbled. “And it got old three years ago.”

“Tatatata,” Tony shushed him. “Ten bucks, kid. What do you say?”

“Sure,” Thomas answered. “What’s the clue?”

The two men pulled out ten-dollar bills from their pockets with a dissatisfied grunt.

“This big guy’s name,” Tony said tightening his grip around the man’s shoulder, “is Luigi.”

Thomas let out a chuckle. “So you must be Mario, right?”

Tony clapped and snatched the bills from their hands and immediately gave one to Thomas. “See boys? He’s really a Cypher!” Tony then led Thomas by the shoulder. “We are the Central Park watchmen. We keep humans and Mashcrits on their own side of the fence.”

“Mashcrits?” Thomas asked.

“Magical Critters, but don’t let them catch you saying that. They hate it. Piero!” He nodded and the lean man threw a couple of yellow T-Shirts at them. On the front of the T-shirts was the stylized Egyptian eye logo of Guardians Inc. “Neighborhood Watch” printed in bold letters on the back.

“The company set up a police permit to let us roam Central Park at night with our flashlights. We’ve caught some real weird Mashcrits and a couple of human thieves too.” He led them through the park.
“This looks like a forest,” Thomas said in awe. The trail they followed through the park entered through very thick vegetation.

“Designed to look like one by Olmsted and Vaux since 1858,” Tony said, “with help from the chief of the fauns, Husseha, himself. This is the Ramble. We have the Great Lawn on the other side of the road and The Lake to the south. Here the Mashcrits can go out at night and have their fun. I prefer the East Meadow myself.”

“And how big is this place?” Thomas pushed away a branch that almost whiplashed him as Tony walked by it.

“The whole thing is almost 850 acres. The Ramble is just 38, but it’s like a forest isn’t it?”

“Sure is.”

“That’s how the Mashcrits want it. It gives them the chance to hide or run away if someone approaches.”

“And how many… Mashcrits do you have here?” Thomas couldn’t resist asking.

“Well, we deal with three basic Mashcrits types in Central Park. There are the Fauns that own the place, the Fae that come and go with the seasons, and the Drifters, some of whom we have to convince the hard way to leave.” He pointed with his thumb at Henri. “Big guy here knows about Drifters. Don’tcha?”

“Werewolves in Brooklyn,” Henri said from behind them.

“They still haven’t fixed that place you brought down.” Tony gave the grotesque thumbs up. “Classic Henri.”

“Lots of fun.” Henri chuckled. “Is Tinamra still mad?”

“Oh yea, that lady wants to clip wings badly. Anyway,” Tony continued, “we have an understanding with Husseha, Chief of the Fauns. So when his sons began to act up, he called us, we checked out what was happening, and then we called you.”

“So what exactly happened?” Thomas asked. They’d left an established path and were now walking toward a formation of rock over a small hill. The forest grew thicker around the hill and they had to use both hands to get through the vegetation. It was as if the plants themselves resisted their passing.

“That’s what you’re here to find out, kid.” Tony tapped the rock using a gnarly twig he pulled from his pocket, and the rock opened up forming a tunnel for them to walk through. “Let’s go. Bella, keep watch,” Tony said as Thomas, Henri, and Bolswaithe entered the tunnel.

Thomas felt like he was on the inside of a mole’s tunnel. The tunnel had been dug out by hand, or claw, and half-chewed roots sprouted from between the scrape marks on the walls. Rope lights ran along the sides and center of the ceiling.

After a short trek, they arrived at a circular door guarded by two creatures in armor. Thomas could see two slender furry legs ending in hooves under their metal armor. Their helmets, however, were completely closed and antlers protruded from the back of them. They had slender arms with four fingers instead of five, and they carried a lance with ribbons tied under the blade.

Tony spoke in a strange language, and the guard on the left responded in a shrilly voice. Tony pointed at Thomas and then at Henri as he spoke and he seemed to be slightly angry.

The Fauns answered with a couple of short words, snorts, and crossed their lances over the door. Tony nodded and turned to Thomas.

“We can go in,” he said looking at Bolswaithe and Thomas, “but Henri has to wait out here. They claim that half-breeds will pollute their flux well.”

Henri cracked his knuckles and took a deep breath. Whatever half-breed meant had really angered him.

“I’ll be here,” Henri said and crouched on the ground, transforming into the smaller immobile statue that he usually adopted when he was at the entrance of the mansion.

The Fauns uncrossed their lances and the inner door opened revealing a cave full of small clay buildings and fluorescent vegetation. Their tunnel entrance was located on a ledge above the main floor of the cave. A couple of hanging bridges led from their ledge to another on the far side of the cave and a waterfall opened directly from a tunnel on the opposite wall forming a river that crossed through the city and ended in a lake surrounded by little clay houses. The city was illuminated from the ceiling by hanging circles of fluorescent lights and reflectors that hung in concentric circles from the roof.

It was the largest cave Thomas had seen, but it was still small compared to the library.

“Welcome to Hussahassalin, underground dwelling of the Hassa clan Fauns.” Tony led them into the city.

Fauns filled the city streets. Without their armor and helmets they resembled white-tailed deer. Most of them jumped to and fro, but the fauns with the largest antlers walked slowly and deliberately, their heads high. They had painted designs on their cheeks and colored rocks adorning their antlers. Some wore elaborate clothing like in movies about the old courts in France and England, but most of them wore simple vests and coats. As they walked through town, fauns would stop and exchange words to one another, and throw curious looks at them, their little white tails wiggling as they spoke in their sibilant tongue.

“They might look cute,” Tony whispered, “but these guys can really mess you up if they want to.”

Just a little adventure under NY City… I hope you’ll be interested to know more about Thomas, Tony and Guardians Inc. The Cypher. You can download it from all ebook stores for a limited time!

Happy reading,
Julian Rosado-Machain

About the Author

Julian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, BA in Graphic Design, worked building armored vehicles, handcrafted alebrijes, owned a restaurant and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

A Mexico City native he now lives in San Diego, California and enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

Guardians Inc. The Cypher is the first book in a series that describes the creatures and powers that live in the world within our world.

The Tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb. 4 Alli’s World – 10 Things You Didn’t Know (about the book & author)

Feb. 5 Living, Learning, and Loving Life How to Avoid the Rejection Blues

Feb. 6 Library Girl Reads & Reviews M interviews Thomas

Feb. 7 Bookshelf Review & Tips for Being a Better Writer

Feb. 8 Trendy Mom Reviews Find out what Julian’s office is like

Feb. 9 Mrs Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews Excerpt

Feb. 10 Java John Z’s Giveaways and Reviews Review & character guest post

Feb. 11 Girl Who Reads Meet the Author Monday

Feb. 12 It’s About Time Mamaw Character Guest Post

Feb. 13 Ask the Author at http://guardians-inc.tumblr.com/

Feb. 14 Lindsay and Jane’s Views and Reviews Review & Author Interview

Feb. 15 Pulling Down Books Review

Feb. 16 KY Bunnies Author Interview

Feb. 17 Cabin Goddess Review & Excerpt

Feb. 18 The Oaken Bookcase Review & Excerpt

Feb. 19 Classic Children’s Books Review

Feb. 20 Keeping Up With The Rheinlander’s Character Guest Post

Feb. 21 Larkin’s Book Bloggers Review & author guest post

Feb. 22 Recent Reads Review & Excerpt

Feb. 23 Logan’s Loco Reads Review & character guest post

Feb. 24 Tamara’s One Stop Indie Shop Excerpt

Review: Jack Templar: Monster Hunter, Jeff Gunhus

JackTemplarbanner

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on the Jack Templar Monster Hunter tour! Following my review, there are links to a whole lot of other articles about this book. 

Warning: Only proceed if you are absolutely sure you want to find out about Monster Hunters. Reading this book will almost certainly cause a load of monsters to descend on your house. There’s no backing out if you suddenly get scared of zombies or vampires! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Jack TemplarTitle: Jack Templar Monster Hunter 
(Goodreads)
Author:  Jeff Gunhus (@JTmonsterhunter)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him.

At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

Details

Series: Jack Templar #1
Genre: Middle-grade/Teen Fantasy
Published: Seven Guns Press, October 2012
Pages: 196

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk 
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & NobleIndieBound

Review

Jack is an ordinary thirteen-year-old with the usual problems at school, but a few days before his fourteenth birthday, things start getting really weird. He’s suddenly a bit taller, stronger and faster, people start looking strangely at him in the street and his teachers start to go slightly mad. Jack thinks he’s the one going crazy, but then Eva shows up and reveals the world of the monster hunters to Jack and his two friends, Will and T-Rex.

As it turns out, monsters leave Monster Hunters’ children like Jack alone until they’re fourteen years old, then they’ll all be trying to kill him. Since Jack never actually knew much about his parents or the details of how they died, this is all rather overwhelming. He deals with the whole situation remarkably well though, and is kicking Creach butt before you can say “hey, here comes a horde of zombies!”.

Jack’s first person telling of this story is funny and rather dry, and very enjoyable. There are some rather adult concepts in this book including losing one’s parents, sacrifice and overcoming the odds, but it’s written about in a very accessible way and I think any young teen would love reading it. There’s plenty of non-stop action and at less than 200 pages, it’s quite a quick read.

Just be warned, the first chapter tells in no uncertain terms that reading this book will bring a horde of the Creach down upon your house, so read at your own risk. (Seriously, what a brilliant first chapter, I loved it!). Also, if you haven’t checked out the website, there’s plenty more monster hunter info there!

I really enjoyed this introduction to Jack’s world and I’ll be keeping my eye out for future Templar Chronicles!

Warnings: Some violence.

 

About the Author:

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

 

The Tour

Visit the tour site at Girl Who Reads to see the full tour information, including a Giveaway with some awesome swag.

There will also be a Twitter party hosted by Jeff on Friday, Dec. 21, 6 pm – 8 pm EST. If you have survived the numerous monster attacks that you will undoubtedly face, chat with us using the hashtag #JackTemplar. The easiest way to join the party is with http://tweetchat.com/

Dec. 3 Kid Lit Reviews Character Guest Post
Dec. 4 Breath of Life  ReviewCharacter guest post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 5 It’s About Time Mamaw Review, Character Guest Post and swag giveaway
Dec. 6 Double the Fun Day
Mrs Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews Author Guest Post and swag giveaway
Mom With A Kindle Character Interview 
Dec. 7 Tamara’s One Stop Indie Shop Guest Post and swag giveaway
Dec. 8 Loves 2 Read Review, Character Guest Post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 9 Italian Brat’s Obsessions ReviewCharacter Guest Post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 10 Alli’s World Character Guest Post and swag giveaway
Dec. 11 Book Him Danno Review, Character Guest Post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 12  Double the Fun Day
Fairday’s Blog! Review
The Preppy Girl in Pink Guest Post
Dec. 13 Here’s The Story Review, Author Guest Post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 14 Fairday’s Blog! Author Interview and swag giveaway
Dec. 15 Bunny’s Review Character Interview and swag giveaway
Dec. 16 The Oaken Bookcase Review!
Dec. 17 Larkin’s Book Bloggers Review, Author Guest Post, and Swag Giveaway
Dec. 18 Double the Fun Day
Keeping Up With The Rheinlander’s Author Interview and swag giveaway
Geo Librarian Review, Character Guest Post, and swag giveaway
Dec. 19 Double the Fun Day
Pulling Down Books Review
Girl Who Reads Author Guest Post
Dec. 20 Rumor Has It Review, Character Guest Post, Swag Giveaway
Dec. 21 Ali’s Bookshelf Author Guest Post and swag giveaway

Review: Dream Robbers, RC Scott

Dream Robbers, RC ScottTitle: Dream Robbers (Goodreads)

Author: RC Scott (@jotoons)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Greedy thieves have stolen the children’s dreams! And not just any dreams, mind you, but the Dreams of whom they are to become. With this loss children everywhere are becoming cross, and more misbehaved by the day. They are driving their parents mad. 

Left alone in their Village, it’s up to twelve, brave, Elf children to undertake a long and hazardous journey, and try to get their Dreams back. They must hurry though. The seeds within every child on Earth, the seeds these special Dreams nourish, are hardening. And, alas, hardened seeds can never sprout. (Goodreads blurb)

Details

Series: Nature Elves 1 (of 2 at present)
Genre: Middle-grade (ages 9-13) Fantasy
Published: Omega Star Publishing, December 2011
My Copy: Provided by the Author in exchange for a review

Paper copies not available.

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk

Review

This delightful story is about twelve elf children, each with special powers from natural sources such as fire, snow, storm and water. They set off on a journey together to try to discover why the stream near their village has stopped flowing. They must get it to flow, so that children will Dream again.

The story starts rather abruptly with only a short prologue to explain what has happened. The reader is thrown into the story with the elf children already a week into their perilous journey, but a steady pace is soon set as the story picks up. RC Scott produces beautiful descriptions of places along the elves’ way, as well as great action scenes full of nature magic and strange creatures. There are plenty of lessons about striving to be one’s best, being kind to others and about the perils of being greedy.

Dream Robbers has a slightly Tolkein-esque feel to it: Twelve companions set out on a journey, go through a few dangers before reaching a temporary safe haven, then continue on to an evil place, then are carried to safety by magical means (or eagles). There’s even a White Wizard in this story, but the entire feeling of the tale is much lighter than Tolkein. The characters are very sweet and do quite a lot of giggling – a bit unusual for Fantasy heroes!

One thing that let this story down was that it’s rather long. There are passages that could easily have been cut down a little, especially in the parts where the elf children are getting lectured by some adult or other. Also, the author has a habit of putting commas in odd places in sentences, which can make reading feel a little stilted.

Dream Robbers was an enjoyable read and would certainly appeal to children interested in getting into epic fantasy adventures. There is a second book in the Nature Elves series that was published earlier this year – Witch Sticker Ball. I’ll be interested in reading it and Dream Robbers to my son when he’s a little bit older!

Review: The Forever Girl, Rebecca Hamilton

Title: The Forever Girl (Goodreads)

Author:   Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse)

Rating: 

Series: Forever Girl book 1 (of ?)

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Published: Immortal Ink Publishing, January 2012

Pages: 354

Paper copies: Amazon.com

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk

Sophia lives in a small town where her Wiccan practices are disapproved of by the local church. Research into her family’s history leads her towards finding out about the voices in her mind, but also leads her into a dark world where the vampiric Cruor rule. Can she trust the mysterious Charles after her friends turn away from her?

Review

I was given this copy of The Forever Girl by the Author herself in a Twitter giveaway. Paranormal romance isn’t usually my favourite but I was so glad I went ahead and read it. This story is dark yet gripping – I had a hard time putting it down.

Early on in the story I couldn’t help but compare it to Twilight a little: Girl meets mysterious, gorgeous boy who says “You shouldn’t get attached to me, it’s too dangerous”, she says “OMG, get me some of that” and he protects her from the Vampire powers-that-be (I don’t mean that as a slight on Twilight, by the way. I rather enjoyed the books when I read them – up until Breaking Dawn, anyway).

As the story moved forward, twists and turns made sure that I never knew what to expect next. The story was fast-paced and exciting and the Wiccan rituals and history of the Cruor and other elementals were fascinating.

Sophia was a great character – she was so strong and determined, but I felt so sorry for her by the end! She tries her hardest and faces each new challenge in a very believeable and engaging way. Charles, on the other hand, I did not connect well with. Apart from seeming a little too perfect, he drove me (and Sophia) mad with his hot/cold attitude – one minute telling her to stay away and acting all stand-offish and the next moment, whispering sweet nothings in her ear. I wanted to slap him! The romantic scenes were well put together though and fit in well with the events in the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Forever Girl. It’s a fantastic debut from Rebecca Hamilton, and I’ll look forward to the release of book two, Her Sweetest Downfall, later this year.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Not if you don’t want them to have nasty nightmares! Also, language and adult content.

Challenges: I read this book as part of the Immortal Reading Challenge – Vampires.

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